Viral Dog Videos Aren’t What They Seem
I have really grown to loathe viral dog videos, and just so you know you won’t be seeing any in this post, because I reckon they get enough eyeballs on them. You know the type… the clips that show dogs in awkward situations or doing seemingly hilarious things like dance, or be dressed up by toddlers. They get millions of views from all over the world and people get a kick out of watching then. So why should I hate viral videos of dogs with such a passion? Well, because they are rarely what they may seem.
Perhaps the most distressing type of video that does the rounds on Facebook again and again, is the type that shows dogs dancing along to a beat by dipping its head up and down and bobbing on its knees. There is a fairly famous one of a street dog doing this in time to car stereo, and recently another one has surfaced featuring a ‘dancing’ dog bobbing along to the music while a dancer busts some moves in front of him.
The sad reality of these videos is that the dog has no concept of music, and isn’t dancing along in time to the rhythm. Instead, what you are looking at is a dog showing symptoms of distemper, an often fatal viral disease which affects the central nervous system in dogs. The disease affects the motor skills of the dog, causing twitching in the muscles and, in more severe cases, these all over body movements which may look like the dog is dancing.
It was after watching a couple of these horrible videos of dogs with distemper, and seeing thousands of people laugh at them with glee, that I started to wise up about the truth behind viral videos of dogs, and I started taking them more seriously.
Another variety of unsettling dog videos are the ones which show dogs fiercely protecting their pregnant owners, often from the baby’s father. The clip always goes the same way – the father reaches out to touch the mother’s bump and the dog lunges and snaps at the hand. What you often see next is laughter from the mother, and the dog getting petted. This is overly protective behaviour which has been trained into the dog, by one of the owners reinforcing the dog’s actions through stroking and praise. It is dangerous, and should never be encouraged. Ever. End of.
And finally, in my roundup of viral dog videos which I find abhorrent, are of course the ‘adorable’ videos featuring small children mess around with unhappy dogs. The worst of these was a clip of a young girl hugging a rottweiler who was in a great deal of stress and showing clear signals that he wanted to be left alone, including growling and lip licking.
A huge proportion of viral dog videos show dogs that are ill, unhappy, stressed, badly trained or even potentially dangerous. Next time you see one, will you do me a favour? Think for a second about what is really going on in that video before you hit ‘like’ and ‘share’.